Anthropology Department

2018-2019 Anthropology Courses

This is the course schedule for Anthropology. Scroll down for more information on our exciting upper level seminars!

Fall 2018

Anthropology 211 - Introduction to Anthropology: History, Theory, Method

Full course for one semester. An introduction to the history, theory, methods, and subject matter of the field of social and cultural anthropology. Students become familiar with the conceptual framework of the discipline and with some of its techniques of research and interpretation. Anthropology is considered in its role as a social science and as a discipline with ties to the humanities and natural sciences. Emphasis is on close integration of analytic abstractions with empirical particulars. Conference. Not open to first-year students.

Anthropology 357 - Comparative Fascisms

Full course for one semester. This course attempts to provincialize the category of fascism, using it to analyze moments both historically and geographically distant from mid-twentieth-century Europe. We will begin with a set of historical apologetics and critiques from European fascists, American white supremacists, intellectuals associated with European imperialism, and right-wing nationalist intellectuals from across the globe, alongside their contemporary critics. Drawing upon the analyses we build of ideologies, tactics, and historical conditions of the various political projects, we spend the second unit of the course reading ethnographic accounts of contemporary fascist and right-wing movements from India, Europe, and the United States. We end the semester with readings from contemporary antifascist movements, comparing their analyses with those that have emerged from our readings. Prerequisites: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 377 - Labor, Value, and Land in India

Full course for one semester. This course examines the practices and politics through which people in India have reworked their landscape and their relations with one another. Drawing on anthropological analyses of labor and value, we look at the environment through questions of who owns and sells what, how it comes to be valued, and who works for whom. We will examine changing agrarian environments and those who cultivate them, resources such as coal and water and those who collect them, waste and those who sell it, and forests and those who protect them. We ask how shifting regimes of labor and value have shaped urban, agrarian, and forest ecologies in India and what an attention to the environment brings to understandings of the country’s political economy. Prerequisites: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 391 - Legal Anthropology

Full course for one semester. The course examines the concept of legality as a social institution and a prominent feature of popular culture. Beginning with the emergence of legal anthropology and its history within the larger discipline, the course will focus on the relationships human actors have with the law as both an embedded social institution, and a disembodied set of authoritative doctrines. The course will orient students to productive ways of studying law and legality anthropologically. Topical areas will include Rule of Law, crime and punishment, sovereignty, alternative legal institutions, colonial and postcoloniality, environmental law, and transnationality. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 398 - Race and Migration

Full course for one semester. Using the lens of critical race studies, this course explores the major ways in which anthropologists and critics have approached the immigrant experience. Comparing the immigrant contexts of North America, Europe, and Australia, the course considers both the politico-economic effects of and ideological contests over immigration. The course focuses on issues of identity formation and particularly on the ways in which immigrants are incorporated into and/or excluded from processes of nation formation and the national imagination through their racialized bodies. In this respect, the course uses the migrant experience to explore broader issues surrounding racial boundaries of contemporary citizenship and contemporary debates over multiculturalism in immigrant societies. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference. Cross-listed as Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies 398.

Anthropology 442 - Ontological Politics

Full course for one semester. This course offers a critical examination of anthropology’s recent “ontological turn,” notable for the influence of such scholars as Philippe Descola and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro. Challenging universalist assumptions that posit an inert and inanimate world of objects as a backdrop to human action, the study of the cultural and historical specificity of ontologies presents alternative views about the nature of what exists. Observing the things that populate, and the processes that make, the lived and known experience of anthropology’s ethnographic subjects draws attention to contrasting knowledge regimes. Consideration of alternate ontologies allows Euro-modernity’s “others” articulation of their own bases of knowledge, logics of practice, and courses of action. However, how anthropologists approach such considerations entails its own sets of political terms and stakes in knowledge production. This seminar examines anthropological debates about how to analyze and address the political tensions that arise in settings where nonmodern beings and forces are recognized and addressed by “other” political actors. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 470 - Thesis

Full course for one year.

Anthropology 520 - Race, Labor, and the Immigrant Experience

One-half course for one semester. Using the lens of critical race studies and labor history, the course explores the major ways in which historians, social scientists, and critics have approached the immigrant experience. Readings are taken from anthropology, sociology, history, and cultural studies. Comparing the immigrant contexts of North America, Europe, and Australia, the course considers both the politico-economic effects of and ideological contests over immigration. The course focuses on issues of identity formation and particularly on the ways in which immigrants are incorporated into and/or excluded from processes of nation formation and the national imagination through their radicalized, laboring bodies. In this respect, the course uses the immigrant experience to explore broader issues surrounding class and racial boundaries of contemporary citizenship and contemporary debates over multiculturalism in immigrant societies. Conference. Offered fall 2018.

Spring 2019

Anthropology 201 - Topics in Contemporary Anthropology

Language, Culture, Power
Full course for one semester. This course is designed to be a gateway course in linguistic anthropology geared toward first- and second-year students. Language permeates our lives, identities, and relationships, yet most of us take it for granted. This course introduces students to some of the foundational concepts, methods, and issues addressed in linguistic anthropology. Starting with the basic premise that language, thought, and culture are inextricably intertwined in practice, we take a fundamentally comparative and global perspective on the study of language. We will consider language not as a simple means of communication, but as a medium through which values, subjectivities, and sociopolitical relationships are created and transformed. We ask: How do differences in language affect how we think and act? How do people do things with language, and how does this vary across cultures, times, and places? How does linguistic communication interact with nonverbal or embodied forms of communication? What ideologies of language shape our understandings of difference and hierarchy? In exploring answers to these questions, we will draw on media resources, natural language examples, and recent ethnographic analyses from around the world to consider the ways in which language is implicated in power struggles within specific domains of social relationships (race, class, gender, sexuality) and institutions (education, medicine, law, immigration, electoral politics). No prerequisite. Conference. 

Global Political Ecology 
Full course for one semester. This course is designed to be a gateway course in the anthropology of political ecology geared toward first- and second-year students. Despite enormous scientific and political efforts, scientists and activists have found themselves unable to bring about the political changes that might reverse climate change and environmental degradation. The degradation of earth’s environment has been caused by humans, but somehow humans have not been able to stop or reverse the social processes that cause this degradation. This course examines case studies of environmental degradation at multiple scales, from superfund sites in Oregon to deforestation in the Amazon to global climate change, to three ends: to explore fundamental questions in social theory about the relationship between humans and the world, to understand why coordinated scientific and political efforts to prevent environmental degradation have tended to fail, and to think through new political and environmental interventions that might succeed. The course readings are drawn from both environmental science and anthropology, and one of the tasks of the course is to introduce students to anthropology through the multiple ways in which the discipline has dealt with knowledge produced in the natural sciences. By putting environmental science in conversation with anthropology, we will also think through ways to reconcile the disciplines in political practice. Conference.

Anthropology 211 - Introduction to Anthropology: History, Theory, Method

Full course for one semester. An introduction to the history, theory, methods, and subject matter of the field of social and cultural anthropology. Students become familiar with the conceptual framework of the discipline and with some of its techniques of research and interpretation. Anthropology is considered in its role as a social science and as a discipline with ties to the humanities and natural sciences. Emphasis is on close integration of analytic abstractions with empirical particulars. Conference. Not open to first-year students.

Anthropology 305 - Musical Ethnography

See Music 305 for description.

Music 305 Description

Anthropology 324 - Sport and Society

Full course for one semester. Sports are a central aspect of ritual form and everyday life in a large number of societies across the globe. The course approaches sports play as a fundamental practice of social formation and social reproduction. Through case studies of situated sports practices (notably football/soccer, cricket/baseball, and boxing), we will examine key issues in the anthropology of modernity: gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, class and stratification, violence, urban space, (post)colonialism, nationalism, and globalization. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference. 

Anthropology 345 - Black Queer Diaspora

Full course for one semester. This course examines the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and transgender people across the black diaspora. The history of the transatlantic slave trade, European colonialisms, and their ongoing aftermaths have created both interlinked and locally variant cultures and lifeways across the Americas, Africa, and Europe. Black queer studies queries the creativity and variety with which black people have been shaped by and continuously reshape these histories, undermining presupposed norms of race, gender, and sexuality. This course looks at ethnographic explorations of these particulars, differences, and commonalities as documented in texts, images, and sounds across multiple disciplines. We interrogate how conceptions of race, gender, and sexuality shift across time and space and as lived by black social actors who both participate in and defy colonial and nationalist projects. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference. 

Anthropology 349 - Time and Space

Full course for one semester. Introduction to classic and contemporary anthropological literatures on the sociocultural production and experience of time and space, supported also by readings from several allied disciplines. Emphasis is on forming propositions specific enough to be relevant to interpretation of concrete ethnographic materials. Topics of major concern include memory, ritual, narrative, deixis, chronology and time reckoning, embodiment, landscape, the turn (or return) to history in anthropology, and the spatiotemporal organization of contemporary industrial societies. Narrower subproblems receiving deepest consideration will vary in different years of offering. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 361 - The Middle East: Culture and Politics

Full course for one semester. The Middle East has been the focus of increased scrutiny over the past few decades in light of U.S. economic and political interests, and yet the region’s internal cultural complexity is poorly understood and often overlooked. This course provides both an anthropological overview of the region’s political culture and cultural politics, as well as a critical inquiry into the very anthropo-geographic categories that have historically sustained a sense of unity in the region, including tribalism, honor and shame, religious piety, and poetic practices. In the process, the course explores larger comparative issues of colonialism, nationalism, state formation, sectarianism, urbanism, and globalization. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 365 - The Anthropology of Development in Post-Mao China

Full course for one semester. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, state leaders have struggled to chart a course to a Chinese modernity that would break with the perceived humiliations of European domination in the nineteenth century and bring China commensurate status in a newly configured world stage of nations. Since Deng Xiaoping’s post-Mao reforms in the early 1980s, the PRC has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world. As such, it is poised to have major impacts globally, and especially since the PRC’s entrance into the World Trade Organization in 2001, these meteoric socioeconomic changes have complex implications for its diverse 1.2 billion people. This course draws on anthropological theories of modernity, capitalism, globalization, and development to turn a critical eye on discourses and practices of “development” in the PRC. Drawing on theoretical, historical, and ethnographic writings, as well as on other media such as government policy papers, advertising, and documentary films, we consider the contexts and contradictions of various development efforts just before, during, and after the Maoist period, focusing especially on the post-Mao era of economic reforms. The PRC thus will serve as a case study for our broader examination of theories conceptualizing the relationships between global capitalism and local realities. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 394 - Language Attrition and Endangerment

Full course for one semester. Language is one of the most salient and identifiable aspects of human culture. Human languages provide rich material for anthropological study as wells of deep knowledge through which we understand our identities, presents, and futures. Throughout the world many language communities are facing issues of language attrition and endangerment. This course provides an introduction to the practical and theoretical causes of language shift and the implications for impacted communities. Contemporary debates about the state of the field, methodological strategies for language documentation, and education and revitalization tactics will also be covered. Selected case studies provide a global perspective on the discourse of language endangerment and show the diversity of community initiatives. The role of language in constructing and maintaining cultural identity and historical continuity is a common theme in this course. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.

Anthropology 413 - Protean Sovereignties

Full course for one semester. The course examines “sovereignties,” paying particular attention to the shifting conceptions attached to the term from early modernity to contemporary times. Drawing upon a wide range of literature on the topic, we will situate the discussion within anthropology as deeply intersubjective juridical, political, and social phenomena. A critical discussion of “sovereignties” will help us better understand related sociocultural phenomena such as nationhood and nationalisms, bureaucratization, power, and hegemony. We will begin with early authors and follow a historical trajectory, which we will use to critically examine moments of sovereign enactment occurring throughout recent history. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 470 - Thesis

Full course for one year.